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A NIGHT WITH THE SPHINX               19
unanswered, to the pale sands, and all questions fell, unheard, into the void. I had turned away, more cynical and more sceptical than before, world-weary and embittered.
But the years did not pass in vain. Life is another name for spiritual education and the Unseen Schoolmaster had taught me one or two things that mattered.
I learnt that our whirling globe does not whirl through space for nothing.
I returned to the Sphinx in a brighter mood. As we companioned each other in the darkness, he crouching in his hollow on the edge of the Libyan Desert and I squatting with crossed legs upon the sand, I speculated anew on the mysterious significance of this Colossus.
The entire world knows the photograph of the Sphinx and can recogni2e its mutilated visage. What the world does not know is why and when it was excavated out of the solid calcareous stone which emerges from the sand, nor whose hands transformed this solitary rock into a statue of such gigantic proportions.
Archaeology is silent, hanging its head in secret shame, for it has had to withdraw those guesses dressed up as theories which, even up to a few years ago, it put forward so confidently. It does no longer utter a definite name, nor venture to offer a precise date. It may no longer assign the Sphinx either to King Khafra or King Khufu, for it now realizes that the discovered inscriptions merely indicate the statue's existence during their reigns.
Beyond the Eighteenth Dynasty there is, ir the discovered papyri, practically no reference to the existence of the Sphinx, and beyond the Fourth Dynasty no lettered stone records it. Excavators, seeking for ancient spoil, have found an inscription which speaks of the Sphinx as a monument whose origin is lost in time and as one which had been rediscovered by chance, after having been buried under the desert sands and completely forgotten. This inscription belongs to the period of the Fourth Dynasty, a line of Pharaohs who lived and reigned in Egypt nearly six thousand years ago. Yet to those ancient kings the Sphinx was already unutterably aged.